Better Solutions for Healthcare

Modern Healthcare: Fresenius operates half of Medicare’s lowest-rated dialysis facilities

By Sabriya Rice

January 26, 2015

Medicare’s new five-star quality-rating system for dialysis facilities suggests significant disparities between the care provided by the nation’s largest kidney-care companies. Far fewer Fresenius Medical Care facilities earned five- and four-star ratings than those of competitor DaVita Kidney Care.

The federal agency posted the star ratings last week as part of a broader initiative to boost transparency and help Medicare beneficiaries compare quality in healthcare settings. Kidney-care groups have been vocal about their concerns with the methodology and called the results distorted. DaVita, in a news release issued Monday, called the results “gratifying,” but also said the company shares the frustrations other kidney-care groups have with the rating program.

Fresenius and DaVita combined represent about 60% of the more than 5,500 facilities that were rated, and there were stark differences between how the companies performed, according to a Modern Healthcare analysis of the ratings posted to the CMS’ Dialysis Facility Compare website.

Fresenius facilities account for nearly half of all facilities nationwide to receive just one-star, which the CMS describes as “much below average quality.” The company has 259 sites listed in that bottom rung and just 53 rated in the top tier. A total of 1,738 Fresenius facilities received ratings.

DaVita, on the other hand, had 324 facilities that earned a five-star rating, making up 57% of the ones in that category. Forty DaVita facilities, out of 1,785 rated, received the lowest score.

Overall, a total of 565 dialysis facilities were “much above average quality” and received the full five stars, while 545 were “much below average quality” and received one star. This is consistent with methodology outlined by the CMS, which noted only facilities in the top decile would receive the five stars, while those in the bottom decile would receive one. Those in the next 20% received four stars, the middle 40% got three stars and those in the next 20% were given two stars.